When resolving disputes legally, several methods can be done. The most known way is through judicial trials. A trial happens before a judge and a jury; a case is presented, and it involves witnesses and evidence. A case is brought to court when it involves unsettled questions of law.
However, a judicial trial is not the only way to resolve disputes. Called Alternative Dispute Resolution, these methods may be chosen by an attorney as he or she deems appropriate for a situation. These alternative dispute resolution methods may provide quicker solutions and privacy for both parties involved.
Dispute Resolution Done in Private
To minimize litigation costs, parties may opt to handle disputes privately rather than going to court. Three basic methods can be used to resolve a legal issue privately: negotiation, arbitration, and mediation.
The most known method of alternative dispute resolution is negotiation. It is a process where parties involved agree to a resolution together by having a one-on-one conversation. Before the start of any negotiation, both parties need to consult their respective lawyers.
There are different steps involved to have a successful negotiation. This includes preparation, the definition of ground rules, clarification and justification, bargaining, and implementation of the agreed resolution.
During planning and preparation, goals during the negotiation are determined. At this stage, both the best-case and worst-case scenarios are determined. This is necessary to see the extreme sides of every possibility; the goal of a negotiation is to give both parties the best-case scenario ultimately.
When defining ground rules, procedural requirements are determined. This includes pinpointing how long the negotiations will last and the venue for the negotiation. Clarification and justification are when parties get to ask further questions, clarify, and inform both parties about the issues regarding the dispute. This is also the stage where both parties clarify their demands for the resolution of the dispute.
On the other hand, bargaining is the time when parties get to decide if they want to compete or cooperate. In this stage, different styles and strategies of bargaining are used to advance each party’s interests. The last stage, closure and implementation, is where both parties reach an agreement to end the dispute. It usually ends with a signing of a contract, a binding agreement that finalizes the resolution reached.
Arbitration, like negotiation, is a process done in private to solve legal disputes. In this case, though, both parties agree to leave the decision to an impartial individual. V. K. Rajah, for instance, is an arbitrator that can be the impartial individual to a case. An arbitrator may receive evidence from both parties and hear arguments to reach an acceptable resolution to a case.
As an arbitrator is deemed an expert in a specific conflict area, his or her decision is respected the way individuals respect a court decision. The arbitrator is deemed the authority that makes the final decision in a dispute.
During the arbitration, the proceedings may seem like a trial; opening statements are made and evidence is presented before an arbitrator. Therefore, an arbitrator stands as a judge; the difference is that the process of arbitration may be quicker and less formal than court proceedings. Additionally, parties are not required to follow federal rules of evidence; the arbitrator may also choose not to apply governing laws.
The hearing ends with the arbitrator’s issuance of the final decision. This decision may either be binding or non-binding. A binding decision means it is final and can only be appealed on limited grounds. A non-binding arbitration on the other hand is final only if both parties accept the decision made by the arbitrator.
The last alternative resolution dispute is mediation. It is a private form of dispute resolution that has been effective for many cases. Mediation is the process that involves a mediator. A mediator is a neutral third party who assists both parties in reaching a resolution, but he or she does not determine the outcome of the process. The final decision still comes from the disputing parties.
There are many reasons why people prefer mediation to other alternative dispute methods or a judicial trial. For one, it is less expensive. Additionally, it is neutral, gets conflicts resolved faster, and it is non-legalistic. On top of this, since the resolution comes from both party’s decisions, acceptance of the outcome is assured.
Issues like custody and visitation can be easily solved through mediation. Other cases that can be solved through the process are small claims, small businesses, and employer-employee disputes.
There are several options when it comes to dispute resolution, but disputants cannot decide which process is appropriate to their situation. In this case, it is recommended that they consult with their lawyer who can answer their questions and assist them.